Understanding the copyright status of Marvel characters with a chart
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Venn diagram is a circular diagram commonly used in mathematics to describe the correlation among sets. This is also a useful tool to showcase the clutter among the copyrights of Marvel characters, cinematic universes, comics and studios.
The copyright status of Marvel characters
Before Marvel became a giant of comic book and on screen, they had to undergo a tragic turn to sell their comic characters to save the company. Later on when they had the potential, Marvel has started to welcome the children back.
And now, when Disney has bought 20th Century Fox, this mess has been much better. The chart below will give you a better idea of who owns the character in the giant superhero world.
As you can see - Comic Book was officially shared in December - Marvel Studios is now "more fertile": a series of characters in the X-Men and Fantastic Four will be covered by Marvel roof. Man-Thing - previously single-handedly lined up with Lionsgate, now has returned to the Marvel godfather. Thus, we'll soon be able to watch the crossover between Man-Thing and Howard the Duck.
Some interesting points are: Firstly, Hulk has shared ownership between Marvel and Universal, since the first Hulk movie was released in 2003. Therefore, all the characters in the Hulk universe who have debuted fans in the MCU are now part of Universal. However, She-Hulk is still uniquely owned by Universal - so her appearance on the big screen is relatively impossible.
Sony still maintains some characters in the Spider-Man universe. Although Marvel has acquired some of Spidey's copyright and comrades, Marvel still owns the Vulture and Shocker (possibly the Scorpion) as well as the Spider-Man franchise: Homecoming. Sony keeps all the villains of Spidey and beautiful Gwen Stacy. However, if the rumor is not just rumors, Peter Parker will probably appear in the upcoming film Venom.
Explaining the Venn diagram of the Marvel characters
First, it should be referred to Universal. After buying the Hulk, many of the Hulk-related characters such as She-Hulk, The Leader, Abomination, Genaral Ross and Betty Ross are all in the possession of Universel. That's why, until now, there is only one movie about Hulk in the Marvel Cinema Universe. Marvel Studios does not have the right to make their own Hulk films without Universal's permission. However, Hulk can appear "legally" in the films of other characters (such as Thor: Ragnarok) and the Avengers series.
Another important character of Marvel is Namor. This is a character from a long time ago. Universal bought this character at the same time as the Hulk.
However, so far Namor is still "folded", never appears on the screen. Fantastic Four is now back in the hands of Marvel Studios, who will negotiate with Universal to lend back to Namor, making the character be the main antagonist of the series.
Next, we have to talk about Sony, the most famous copyright holder of Marvel: Spider-Man. In addition to Spider-Man, Sony also holds the rights to all the characters involving: Sandman, Carnage, Lizard, Rhino, Venom, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Elector, Kraven, Hobglobin, Silver Sable, Black Cat and Gwen Stacy. These are the antagonists that the Marvel Universe Cinema is not allowed to use. Basically, Sony only partnered with Marvel Studios to give them the chance to put Spider-Man in the same tray with the Avengers.
Referring to the "scramble for copyright" between Sony and Marvel, it must be mentioned that another special character, Kingpin - who has appeared in the Daredevil series on Netflix. This character is the common enemy of Daredevil and Spider-Man, so both Sony and Marvel Studios can use without worrying about copyright infringement.
Of course, the remaining characters (including the Avengers, Inhumans, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the thousands of other characters that can be filmed) are all in the hands of Marvel Studios.
By: Mithrine Smith